Le miroir japonais de la Corée du Sud

SEOUL – Compte tenu des défis qui attendent le Japon, on ne peut qu'admirer la détermination du Premier ministre Shinzo Abe au terme de deux décennies de stagnation économique du pays. Sa stratégie des « trois flèches » de l'expansion monétaire massive, de l'augmentation des dépenses publiques et des réformes structurelles, est cohérente sur le plan théorique. Mais jusqu'à présent, seulement une flèche et demi ont été lancées.

Le plan de relance est compensé par la hausse de l'impôt sur la consommation destiné à réduire l'imposant fardeau de la dette du Japon : un processus qui va conduire de nombreux consommateurs japonais à revoir leurs dépenses à la baisse. Les réformes structurelles promises dans le secteur de l'énergie, sur le marché du travail et dans la politique de la concurrence doivent encore être mises en place et il semble peu probable qu'elles prennent effet prochainement. Plus inquiétantes encore sont les réalités plus englobantes et immuables, comme le vieillissement et la diminution rapide de la population, qui vont limiter la croissance économique du Japon dans les prochaines décennies.

Mais les problèmes du Japon ne sont pas uniques. En effet, son voisin et rival historique, la Corée du Sud, s'engage dans une voie similaire. La différence est que la Corée du Sud a encore le temps d'améliorer ces tendances et d'éviter un bourbier à la manière japonaise, caractérisé par une faible croissance permanente et un déclin à long terme.

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